Also, help with damaged ends

Dear Rebecca: I have to wear my hair up every day for school as part of the regulations; what are some good ways to wear it? Also, if I wash it in the mornings, it is always wet for school—which I hate, but if I wash it the previous night then the curls get ruined overnight. What is your advice?

A: If you don’t want to shampoo your hair in morning, try misting your hair with a leave-in conditioner like Design Essentials HCO. HCO is a light-weight moisturizing leave-in conditioner that will rejuvenate your curls, and help to minimize frizz. Lightly comb HCO through the hair with a wide-toothed comb and style as normal.

After rejuvenating your curls, try styling your hair into a loose ponytail with the hair lightly pulled back. Be sure to use a non-pulling hair band. The look you want to achieve is fullness with curl definition both on the top sections, and through the ponytail. The style looks unintentional and is what I refer to as simple chic. Also, try a loose French roll for another flattering look. The secret is to make the French roll loose so your curls are not pulled tightly. This style will give you a sophisticated, glamorous look.

Dear Rebecca: After years and years of straightening my hair with dryers and straighteners, I have at last given in and now gone for the naturally curly look. My problem now is the roots curl, but the ends are damaged and frizzy .

A: This can often be the case when you are making the transition, but there is always hope!!! Start by getting a good trim. Try something with layers which will give your hair a fresh look and help your curls reactivate. Then begin weekly moisturizing treatments. Here’s a suggested hair care regimen:

  1. First, cleanse your hair with a deep-cleansing shampoo. This will help remove any minerals or impurities on your hair.
  2. Follow with a moisturizing shampoo to restore moisture and balance to the hair.
  3. Then, towel-dry your hair to remove excess water.
  4. Generously apply your treatment or conditioner to the hair. Then wrap a warm, moist towel around your hair and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and towel-dry your hair.
  5. Finish by applying styling products like creams, gels or leave-in conditioners that moisturize and define. Separate and define curls using your fingers. Allow your hair to dry naturally. If your ends are not curling, try using a drinking straw to set your curls by wrapping 1/4-square sections around the straw while your hair is still damp. Leave straws in hair until dry. Then gently separate your curls. The finished look is healthy, shiny, and gorgeous curls!

I do not recommend drying the hair on a daily basis for naturally curly hair. Instead, use a blow dryer only once or twice a week. Because of the shape of the hair strand, naturally curly hair is predisposed to having moisture loss. That is why it is essential to allow the hair’s natural oils to remain on the hair for longer periods of time. This will help ensure a smooth and defined curl.

Dear Rebecca: What can I do to encourage my thin sides to grow back? My sides have always been thinner than the rest of my hair. I think this is partly due to general manipulation (ponytails over the course of my life, wearing braids, etc.) but the last perm I had (Jan '07) I did myself! I was wearing weaves and would perm the top/sides of my hair every now and then myself. I had done it a few times and never had an issue.

A: Okay first things first, and know I say this out of love. Please put the relaxer down! Here’s why. When you apply a relaxer yourself, you are truly unable to see the processing of each section, and you begin to rely on the “burning sensation” to let you know when your relaxer has straightened your new growth. Unfortunately, this leads to over-processed hair, which basically means your hair has been straightened too much! This can cause so many issues, including permanent follicle damage and hair breakage. Keep in mind hair straightens in stages when relaxing. So if you relax your hair to the completely straight stage, it is inevitable your next stage will be breakage. It is likely that this happened to your sides.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I think relaxers are great when done correctly. But that’s why it’s always important to have a relaxer applied by a licensed, professional only. Getting back to your question, the best way to overcome thinning edges, hair, etc. is to start by drinking more water and eating a healthy diet. Believe it or not, the absolute best way to help hair grow is by living well. Be sure to exercise since it increases circulation to hair follicles. Then, I recommend giving your hair a break from relaxers, braids, or weaves for at least a minimum of 2 months. This will allow the hair to fill into the thinning areas. Lastly, visit a licensed hair stylist for strengthening treatments as well.